A settlement and early town in Płock province, part of Kleniewo gmina rural political district, lying two miles from Płock (capital town of the province). Situated in waterless and treeless surroundings, Bielsk was unable to develop prosperously and only good soils permitted the inhabitants to live and till the fields. Bielsk presently possesses a wooden Catholic parish church and a shelter home for the aged and cripples. In 1770, Bielsk paid an army tax of 414 zlotys for Cekanowo villages as Crown lands. An ancient settlement there was the possession of Benedictine priests from Mogilny. In like manner it had been transferred as barter to the Prince of Mazovia. In 1424, Ziemowit, Prince of Płock, elevated it to a government town; King Zygmunt I bestowed numerous privileges in 1537, and his son Zymunt August confirmed the original construction in 1550. In the 16th Century, it was twice destroyed by fire and subsequently rebuilt. During the Swedish wars, just like all other of our towns, Bielsk was completely brought to ruin. A complementary calamity ravaged it in the form of plagues, during which the inhabitants fled their homes, erecting a dike in a field near Mokry village (ed-- where they apparently lived for some time), traces of the ramparts still remain today: A celebration of this is known today in Bielsk as "The Mean Lodgings".
Bielsk had three Catholic churches-- one called Holy Ghost, the second St. Anne's, and the third St. John's parishes. According to its own records, St. Johns was founded in 1065; originally of wood, it was replaced with stone in the 14th Century. Burned during the Swedish invasion, it was again erected in 1717 only to undergo its own devastation and ruin, and was finally rebuilt in 1789 as it stands today. Holy Ghost Church lasted to the year 1776, when it was obediently demolished for the restoration of today's St. Andrew's church, in which there is a burial cemetery. In 1827, Bielsk had 72 homes and 488 residents. In 1857, it had 68 homes and 607 inhabitants. Presently, it has 841 inhabitants (401 men and 440 women), with 102 residences (2 of stone), and possesses 1,730 acres of farmland (1,160 tillable acres). Located within the town limits are a shelter (asylum), a primary school, a gmina peasant court, 18 shops, and three windmills. There are six market fairs a year, and summer markets occur twice a week. Bielsk is a postal station, situated where the highway from Płock splits to Sierpc and to Mlawy. Bielsk parish in Płock deaconate has 2,131 parishioners.
Editor's Note: All Slownik longitudes in this article have been converted to modern coordinates which is based on the Greenwich zero meridian. All Polish measurement units (land areas, distances, height above sea level, etc.) were converted to American-English equivalents. Monetary units, where identified, were left in zlotys/zl. or rubles/rs.
Source: Slownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego - Warsaw [1880, vol. 1, p.214]
This translation, by Mike Gansecki, is used by Permission.